Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Celebrate, Don't Be Sari

Magnet # 154: Indian Girl in Sari

Material: Clay

Purchased By: Mom & Dad

Well, I goofed this week. I thought India's Republic Day was on the 28th, but in checking Michigan's day of statehood, (yep, I always try to confim my dates) I realized it was on the 26th. I guess I must have read the six as an eight. In any event, I usually prefer to note important events the day of or beforehand, but this time, I'll make an exception. So, yes, Republic Day was celebrated yesterday in India. It's considered to be the nation's most popular national holiday.  There was a huge parade in it capital, New Delhi. Thousands gathered to watch as the Prime Minister began the festivities by placing a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.  Later, the President arrived and participated in important events, such as presenting awards for bravery.  And then the parade began. Its route started near the Presidential Palace, then traveled down the Rajpath, or the ceremonial path, past the India Gate, all way to the historic Red Fort, one of the country's most famous sites.  This year's parade included modern military items such as a tank and missiles, and older trappings like a horse-mounted regiment, and even one on camels.  And, of course, military regiments from the navy, army, and air force all marched in the procession, and there was a flypast of jets in the Indian Air Force.  But the festivities were not limited to New Delhi.  In state capitals around India, the Governors raised the Indian flag.  All over the country, Indians came out and celebrated, despite terror threats and warnings of shutdowns and boycotts.  But everything went well and India was able to enjoy its 6o years as a sovereign nation.

Although India gained its freedom from British rule in August of 1947, they had a long path ahead to establishing their own form of rule.  For almost three years, a Constituent Assembly met to hammer out the nation's Constitution.  And when they finally had made it official in January of 1950 and elected their first President, the people of India were thrilled.  Finally, the dream of Mahatma Gandi and his followers had been fully realized, even though he and some of them were not around to appreciate it.  In that first year, the celebrations began even before the the Constitution had been completely signed.

The little girl that's featured on this magnet looks ready to celebrate Republic Day.  The sari, or long, unstitched strip she's wearing is perhaps the best known item of clothing to come from India.  It began to be used in ancient times, when priests in the Indus Valley Civilization draped themselves with these cloths.  For a time, both men and women wore them, and they became very detailed and highly ornamented.  Even goddesses have been depicted wearing various versions of the sari.  Eventually, however, the sari became a garment mainly for women, and they wear it to this day.  There are all sorts of different ways to drape the material across the body, and it's usually wrapped around the waist and not worn loose, as it is on my little magnet.  Indian women wear their saris on a daily basis and, in doing so, are one of the few civilizations that still regularly wear the same clothing they did in ancient times, although other parts of their outfit, like the choli, or blouse, and the petticoat, both of which the British likely introduced.  However, on a day like Republic Day, it's likely the women of India would wear special saris that are particularly expensive and intricate.

India has come a long way since its ancient times, and it's clear through symbols like the sari that it keeps these ties to its past while embracing modern technologies.  India may still have a long way to go, but it has progressed a great deal since the British ruled it.  Clearly its citizens are proud of their nation, coming out to celebrate the anniversary of its establishment, regardless of various threats, and having a wonderful time all across their vast nation.

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